The Directors Easter News
Despite the horrendous Easter weather, which has delayed the work on Hope 2 - the extension of the Watts Gallery Tea Shop into the Old Kiln and the creation of a group space, plus the construction of new loos - there are some signs of spring on the Watts Gallery Estate. Small outbursts of primroses, crocuses and anenomes are appearing; and with that the first sign of our volunteer gardeners led by Jeanne Argent, starting their highly valued efforts.
The Big Issues exhibition showing the work of artists involved in our workshops with excluded groups, prisoners, young offenders, homeless, reformed drug users has been on show in KPMG Offices in Salisbury Square London, and is currently on show at Guildford Cathedral. There have been over 20 works sold from the exhibition, and the acknowledgement that this provides to those who might be suffering from depression, loneliness, and a lack of self worth can be transformational.
Kara Wescombe, Head of Learning at Watts Gallery has started the programme for the new year of Big Issues projects and we are delighted that we will be working with some new partners, including Opportunities, a group of young single mothers in Farnham. The project would not be possible without the support of the Hazelhurst Trust, KPMG Foundation and the Michael Varah Memorial Fund, who continue to urge us forward in delivering the Wattses' art for all belief. I believe Mary Watts would be delighted to see of an evening, a small huddle of Compton residents working with Joyce Hyslop, the Apprentice Pottery, on creating terra cotta clay models in the Foyle Art for All Learning Studio.
Perhaps the most moving outcome of our learning programme has been a film made by a group of young people from Park Barn, a deprived area of Guildford, who together over 5 days have created the most fascinating chronicle of the Watts in Compton. The world premiere of the film is next week and I am sure it will be available to watch on the website. The fact that adolescents can enjoy the achievements of a pioneering artistic luminaries of over 100 years ago and tell their story in their own words, shows that we can see and enjoy art and heritage across the centuries and draw inspiration from this living legacy even today.
This month sees the new Associate Artist Glenn Sujo take up residence in the Watts Studios. Following on the heels of Alexander Creswell, Glenn will draw inspiration from Signor's working environment, from the collection and the archive, and develop his practice of drawing, particularly using skeletons! His studio will be open to visitors at certain times, and there will be an exhibition of Glenn Sujo's work in the Lewis Elton Gallery in the autumn.
On exhibitions we are looking forward to opening the first exhibition on Frank Holl for over one hundred years. Frank Holl was the Watts's favoured portraitist and we are delighted to assemble some wonderful work. This will be followed by an exhibition on Mary Seton Watts, developed by our Curatorial Fellow, Mary McMahon.
At this week's quarterly volunteers' meeting, where we ran out of seats because so many people attended, I mentioned that people say to me not only how surprised they are to find such a big campus of interesting buildings, places and activities going on here, but also they note the energy and passion. Watts Gallery differentiates itself as a place of national interest, truly aspiring to become a national centre for exploring Victorian art, social history, craft and design. We are so grateful to all those who support us and make this possible. Thank you.